Ontario International Airport (ONT) officials cheered word from Southwest Airlines that the carrier intends to return to its full flight schedule by the end of the year with plans to initiate new, nonstop service between the Inland Empire and Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) on Nov. 1.
“This is great news for the aviation industry at a time when all of us need good news,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “The coronavirus pandemic led to decreases in passenger volumes by 90 percent or more virtually overnight and caused many to question whether recovery would come within years, much less months.”
“Air travelers are resilient by nature and Southwest’s announcement is a bold and encouraging prediction that they will return to the skies sooner rather than later.”
Prior to the arrival of the global coronavirus pandemic, Southwest accounted for more than 50 percent of ONT’s commercial flights and carried more than 200,000 passengers in a typical month.
During the downturn in air travel since March, Thorpe noted that ONT has enhanced protocols to keep terminals clean and germ-free. High-touch surfaces are frequently cleaned with highly effective disinfectant. Security screening trays treated with powerful antimicrobial technology are used in both passenger terminals and additional hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the facility.
Passengers are also reminded to wash hands with soap and water frequently and wear appropriate face coverings while in the airport and during flights.